Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Edith Head exhibit in Lancaster, Ohio

Edith Head (1897-1981) was a costume designer in Hollywood who won 8 Academy Awards, and was nominated for 35. She worked for Paramount films for 43 years before leaving to work with Alfred Hitchcock at Universal Pictures. "The Sting" was one of the films. She also designed the costumes for "Rear Window", one of my favorite films. Remember the beautiful dress that Grace Kelly wears when she's trying to get Jimmy Stewart to go to a fancy society party with her?

While I was in at the Crow Barn, we took a field trip to the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio, in Lancaster to see the exhibit including a tour with Randall Thropp, the curator of the show. He knew the history of the dresses, which he explained had been rented out for costume parties over the years.

Mae West is quoted as telling Edith Head:
"My dresses should be loose enough to prove I'm a lady but tight enough to show 'em I'm a woman." The last film Edith Head worked on was "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid".

In each room there was an IPad on a stand. You could click on a dress and it would show you a clip from the film with the actor wearing it. It was an effective way to see the dress being part of the directors vision for the narrative.

This is the front of the building.

Below is my favorite dress. Look at the details in the dress. Wow!

These 3 dresses were in the beginning of the exhibit. She could design sexy, over the top feminine and elegant. 

Most of the dresses were filmed in black and white. Although the dresses above were in taupe or gold, they look great in black and white.

Check out the soutache on this coat. It's really pretty and dramatic. The photo below shows it on Una Merkel, the actress it was made for the film "Summer and Smoke".

This was Roy Rogers jacket. I was most excited about seeing this - he was my hero when I was little. Beautifully made and he was so accessible to children - nothing scary like some of the superheroes. 
In February 2003, Edith Head was featured on a U.S. Postal Stamp. What a career!
If you can get to the exhibit, it is worth seeing. I found that the dresses looked very different on the mannequins  than when you saw them moving with the actress in the film. The building is beautiful as well.

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